There is commonly a need to describe requirements for the productive, effective, and safe (broadly
Competent) performance in a specific workplace. These requirements or standards are called occupational or professional only because they describe the occupational, professional or job-related behaviour.
The term "occupational" should not be interpreted as if it refers solely to an "occupation". Compliance with the "occupational standards" may be a condition for being employed in a particular job/industry or for being awarded a qualification or a licence for practising an occupation. For defining requirements for competent workplace behaviour, some countries use the term "occupational standards", and others use the term "competency standards". Some countries use both terms.
There are various benefits of developing occupational standards because they may have many uses.
Some of the ways of utilizing standards involve:
- Identification of competency gaps with employees and developing in-company upgrading programmes to improve competitiveness and productivity
- Producing job descriptions for staff recruitment and career planning
- Recognition of competencies acquired on-job and of qualifications acquired
- Transferring technologies requiring complex competencies of workers which need to be described and applied in details
- Organizational review of work processes to reduce overlap of functions, etc.
Occupational standards are also utilized in VET, notably, to develop standards-based curriculum and skills assessment, instruments for the development of training modules, trainers and assessors criteria etc.